24 Festive Tasks 2019


Books: Candles
Tasks: Stars


The Squares


Book:  Ngaio Marsh: Death and the Dancing Footman (audio version, read by James Saxon)
Task 1: Miss Marple limerick.
Task 2: Chili con carne.
Task 3: Epitaph for The Disappearing Spoon.
Task 4: Gaby in Mexico (& Guatemala).

Points: 5



Book: Michael Innes: Death at the President’s Lodging (audio version, read by Stephen Hogan)
Task 1: Beethoven Festival.
Task 2: KitKat flavors.
Task 3:
Task 4: Teriyaki Chicken.

Points: 4



Book: Ellis Peters: The Rose Rent (audio version, read by Nadia May)
Task 1: Pick your ponies.
Task 2: Ross are red, violets are blue: Shakespeare, Much Ado.
Task 3: Cheshire Cat mug.
Task 4: Holiday treats in a cup.

Points: 5



Book: Joy Ellis: The Stolen Boys (audio version, read by Richard Armitage)
Task 1:
Task 2: Book world revolution: thinking differently about books.
Task 3:
Task 4: Bookshelf ordering system.

Points: 3



Book: Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (audio version, read by Dan Stevens)
Task 1: Favorite Rainy Day Books.
Task 2:
Task 3: Dragons.
Task 4: Books on my shelf with antonym titles.

Points: 4



Book: E.C.R. Lorac: Murder by Matchlight (audio version, read by Mark Elstob)
Task 1: Sunrise photos.
Task 2: Authors who died this year I’ll miss the most.
Task 3:
Task 4: Sunset walk in the woods.

Points: 4



Book: Chris Ewan: The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris (audio version, read by Simon Vance)
Task 1: Redeeming feature of a DNF’d book (Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn).
Task 2: Baby diaries.
Task 3: Having to let go my library.
Task 4: My one UNESCO world heritage site to visit: Machu Picchú.

Points: 5



Book: Cyril Hare: An English Murder
Task 1: Favorite children’s and middle grade books.
Task 2:
Task 3:
Task 4: Carnivals and amusement parks.

Points: 3



Book: Plato: Timaeus and Critias (audio version, read by David Rintoul, David Timson and Peter Kenny)
Task 1: Reading philosophy.
Task 2: Rating and reviewing policy.
Task 3: Creature comforts.
Task 4: Books read in school.

Points: 5



Book: Lesley Cookman: Murder in Steeple Martin (audio version, read by Patience Tomlinson)
Task 1:
Task 2: Fiction about royalty “moonlighting” as commoners.
Task 3:
Task 4: Nobel prize medal for Harriet Vane.

Points: 3



Book: Louisa May Alcott: The Christmas Stories (audio version, read by Susie Berneis)
Task 1: Toddler on the move alone in the city.
Task 2: The books I am most thankful to have found this year.
Task 3:
Task 4:

Points: 3



Book: Ann Cleeves: White Nights (audio version, read by Kenny Blyth)
Task 1: Favorite Scottish writers.
Task 2:
Task 3: 2019 Reading: greatest “catches” from my TBR.
Task 4: Black Watch tartan.

Points: 4



Book: Louise Penny: Still Life (audio version, read by Adam Sims)
Task 1: Advent calendar.
Task 2: Favorite holiday tradition / moment.
Task 3: Pineapple (wassail) bowl.
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Joy Ellis: Five Bloody Hearts (audio version, read by Matthew Lloyd Davies)
Task 1: Book wish list.
Task 2: Holiday treats.
Task 3: Same book — different title.
Task 4: Audre Lorde: Coal.

Points: 5


Book: Nancy Mitford: Christmas Pudding (audio version, read by Kristin Atherton)
Task 1: Foreign cuisine: Chicken Tikka Masala.
Task 2:
Task 3: Literature Nobel Prize for Harriet Vane.
Task 4:

Points: 3



Book: Katrine Engberg: Krokodilwächter (audio version, read by Dietmar Bär)
Task 1: Harriet Vane and the St. Lucia maidens.
Task 2: Sleigh rides.
Task 3: Kokopelli and Dobby.
Task 4: Books from the farthest origins.

Points: 5



Book: Agatha Christie: Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (audio version, read by Simon Vance, Hugh Fraser, David Suchet, and Joan Hickson)
Task 1: Candles.
Task 2: Listening to Mary Kelly’s The Christmas Egg long past my regular bedtime.
Task 3:
Task 4: Childhood good night stories.

Points: 4



Book: Nicholas Blake: Thou Shell of Death (audio version, read by Kris Dyer)
Task 1: Dreidel spin: first book of 2020.
Task 2: Water chestnut latkes.
Task 3: Reading Angela Thirkell’s High Rising by flashlight.
Task 4:

Points: 4



Book: Donna Andrews: Owl Be Home for Christmas (audio version read by Bernadette Dunne)
Task 1: Airing of grievances: 5 most disliked books of 2019.
Task 2: Battle of the Books: Pippi Longstocking vs. Anna Karenina.
Task 3:
Task 4:

Points: 3



Book: Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (audio version, read by Hugh Fraser)
Task 1:
Task 2:
 Christmas movies.
Task 3: Christmas book gifts.
Task 4: The gifts that meant the most to me.

Points: 4



Book: Agatha Christie: A Caribbean Mystery (audio version, read by Emilia Fox)
Task 1:
Task 2: Favorite books where music is an important feature.
Task 3:
Task 4: Coffee and pastries with a colleague.

Points: 3



Book: Candace Robb: A Gift of Sanctuary (audio version, read by Stephen Thorne)
Task 1: 2020 reading goals.
Task 2: 2019 reading stats.
Task 3: 2020 reading year bibliomancy.
Task 4:

Points: 4



Book: Terry Pratchett: Hogfather (audio version, read by Nigel Planer)
Task 1:
Task 2: Favorite Discworld characters.
Task 3: Discworld subseries world I’d like to visit: The Witches.
Task 4: Good Omens: Rooting for Crowley, Aziraphale, and Agnes.

Points: 4



Book: Agatha Christie: Star Over Bethlehem (audio version read by Simon Vance)
Task 1: Spicy red pesto pasta.
Task 2:
Task 3: Purple comfort socks (with pompoms!).
Task 4: Tea and book.

Points: 4



(Not used.)






      95 points



The Tasks

Door 1:  Día de Los Muertos

Task 1: Compose a limerick or short poem in honor of a favorite book character.

Task 2:  If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to a favorite dish – and / or make yourself a margarita – and share a photo.

Task 3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.

Task 4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?

Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.


Door 2:  Japanese Culture Day

Task 1: Tell us about a cultural festival or event in the area where you live.

Task 2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.

Task 3: Try your hand at folding a paper crane. Instructions: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Paper-Crane-1/

Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.

Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.


Door 3:  Melbourne Cup Day

Task 1: Pick your ponies.*

Task 2: Roses are the official flower of Flemington Race Track; write your own “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem for one of your favorite or most hated books of all time.

Task 3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.

Task 4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.

Book: Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author.

* Ponies (horses) running the race will be posted here by Darth Pedant, guest hosting for MurderByDeath, as soon as they’re announced, or thereabouts. The official field is published on November 3rd.


Door 4:  Guy Fawkes Night

Task 1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.

Task 2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)

Task 3: Make a little straw (or wood / cloth / wool / fabric) effigy of the book character you like least.

Task 4:

How do you order the books on your shelves?

Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.


Door 5:  Bon Om Touk

Task 1: List / tell us about your favorite rainy day reads.

Task 2: String up some fairy lights around your books / bookcase / kindle and share a picture of the results.

Task 3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?

Task 4:The South Korean flag features images of ying / yang (the blue and red circle in the center) and four sets of three black lines each representing heaven, sun, moon and earth and, in turn, the virtues humanity, justice, intelligence and courtesy. Compile a list or stack – 4 books minimum – composed of books that either have opposing words in their titles (e.g., war / peace; asleep / awake – not necessarily both words in the same title), or that feature the words “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “earth,” “humanity,” “justice,” intelligence,” and / or “courtesy.”

Book: Read a book by a Korean author or set in Korea, that takes place at sea or on a river, where the plot involves a festival, where the moon or rain plays a pivotal role in the plot, or with rain, water or the moon on the cover.


Door 6:  Veterans / Armistice Day

Task 1: Sunrise services are a staple of this day: Take a picture of the sunrise where you live and share it with us.

Task 2: In keeping with the minute of silence, tell us about the authors who have passed this year that you will miss the most.

Task 3: Rosemary is for remembrance, but it’s great for chasing away moths, silverfish and other bugs that can damage books (and linens). Make a sachet with some rosemary, lavender, dried basil, etc. to keep on your bookshelves – post a picture of the results and let us know what combinations of herbs you used. A list of possibilities can be found here: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects

Task 4:The Forest of Compiègne, just outside Compiègne, France, is the site of the signing of the 1918 Armistice. It was also the site of the signing by the French of a truce with the Germans following the German invasion in 1940. – Find a green space in your local area (or favorite area) and go for a walk or bike ride of a mile (or 1.61 km) and post a picture or screenshot of the map of where you walked / biked.

Book: Read a book involving a war, battle, or where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover, or honor the ‘unknown soldier’ of your TBR and read the book that’s been there the longest.


Door 7:  International Day for Tolerance

Task 1: Find a redeeming quality in a book you read this year and didn’t like.

Task 2: Share a story about yourself, or a story about your family that’s survived the generations, or share a particular tradition your family has passed on from generation to generation and if there’s a story behind why, tell us about it.

Task 3: The French expression for tolerance towards others is “laisser faire, laisser aller” (roughly: “let them do as they want, let it go”). Have you ever “let go” a book (e.g., given it away or decided not to yield to the temptation to buy it) and later regretted that choice?

Task 4:If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?

Book: Read a book about tolerance, or outside your comfort zone, or set in Paris (seat of UNESCO).


Door 8:  International Children’s Day

Task 1:  What was your favorite children’s book growing up? Your favorite middle grade book?

Task 2: Rediscover your childhood with a yo-yo, a slinky, – whatever toy you loved from childhood you still have access to, or make and blow some bubbles! Take a picture and share your fun with the rest of us.

Task 3: Make some art – draw a picture, or color one in and share the results with us. Free printable bookmarks can be found on Google images

Task 4: As a kid, did you enjoy visiting amusement parks and carnivals? Which were your favorite rides or shows? Do you still have any photos, or is there a memorable event you’re happy to share? – Alternatively, if you’re a parent now: Do you visit amusement parks / carnivals with your kids?

Book: Read a children’s or YA book or a book where children or teenagers play a significant role, or written by an author who was under the age of 18 at the time of publication.


Door 9:  World Philosophy Day

Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?

Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?

Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?

Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?

Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kobo, etc.).


Door 10:  Russian Mothers’ Day

Task 1:  “Three Russian writers walk into a bar …” (Take it from here – the wilder the merrier!)

Task 2: Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a Russian apprentice carpenter and shipwright going by the name Peter Mikhailov in the Dutch town of Zaandam (and later in Amsterdam), who eventually turned out to be none other than Tsar Peter the Great, whose great interest in the craft would become pivotal to his programs for the build-up of the Russian navy and naval commerce.
So: Tell us about a favorite book, either nonfiction history (demonstrably true facts, please, no conspiracy theories or unproven conjecture) or fiction – all genres, not limited to historical fiction –, dealing with a member of royalty “moonlighting” as a commoner.

Task 3: Until WWII, the most famous part of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg was the so-called amber room. It was looted, lock stock and barrel, by the Nazis, and has since vanished from the face of the earth, with its fate a complete mystery to the present day. Let your imagination run wild: What do you think may have happened to it? (Kidnapped by aliens? Spirited away by dwarves and hidden in a secret cavern deep below the face of the earth? Sold, piece by piece, to finance … what? The Nazi war effort? The restoration of the Romanovs to the throne of Russia? Stalin’s pogroms? What else?) Don’t hold back, we’d love to know!

Task 4: Forget-me-nots and handmade medals of honor are important Russian Mothers’ Day gifts. Create a medal of honor (with or without the image of a forget-me-not) for a favorite book character or for a family member or friend of yours that you’d like to pay respect to.

Book: Read a book set in Russia, by a Russian author, featuring a story within a story (like a Russian “matryoshka” doll), or featuring a character who is a mother.


Door 11:  Thanksgiving Day

Task 1:  If you have kids or pets, tell us about something “bad” they did that was so funny you couldn’t help but forgive (“pardon”) them. If you have neither kids nor pets, was there such an event in your own childhood – or with kids or pets in your family or circle of friends?

Task 2: Tell us: Of the books that you read this year, which are you most thankful for, OR was there one that turned out to be full of “stuffing”? Alternatively, which (one) book that you read anytime at all changed your life for the better?”

Task 3: Share your favorite turkey or pie recipe.

Task 4: Send a friend you’re thankful for having a postcard (in the mail!). Snap a picture of the postcard image (not the message) and share it with us.

Book: Read a book with an autumnal cover, set in New England, where a turkey shows up in the story, with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover, or with the theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.


Door 12:  St. Andrew’s Day

Task 1:  Tell us: Who is your favorite Scottish (or Scots-born / -descendant) writer?

Task 2: Ian Rankin likes to say that the Scottish national diet is sugar, fat and alcohol. The traditional Scottish dessert – Raspberry Cranachan – contains all three of these (and of course the alcohol in it is the national drink, whisky), but it’s also delicious! So … make Raspberry Cranachan: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2852/raspberry-cranachan.aspx (For a non-alcoholic version just omit the whisky – or substitute with orange juice.)

Task 3: St. Andrew was a fisherman by trade: Which book(s) from your TBR that you read this year turned out to be the year’s greatest “catch”?

Task 4: If you could create your personal tartan, what would it look like? Or if you have a favorite existing tartan, which one is it?

Book: Read a book set in Scotland.


Door 13:  Advent

Task 1:  Share a picture of your advent calendar.

Task 2: Tell us: What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Task 3: Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!

Task 4: Tell us about an event in the immediate or near future that you’re looking forward to.

Book: Read a pastiche, a book authorized by a deceased author’s estate, the 4th book in a series, a book with the word “four” in the title, a book featuring four siblings, or a book with a wreath, pines or fir trees on the cover.


Door 14:  St. Nicholas’ Day

Task 1: Write a book wish list to St. Nick / Santa Claus for books that you’ve been eyeing but can’t justify the expense of purchasing. (E.g., art books? Collector’s editions? Boxed sets?)

Task 2: In the Netherlands, ‘Sinterklaas’ is celebrated with ginger biscuits, marzipan and hot chocolate with cream; in Germany, it’s St. Nicholas’ Day with gingerbread, chocolate and / or nut or almond cookies, chocolate candy, and tangerines (or oranges). Choose one or more of the above as a holiday snack and post a picture for us to drool over.

Task 3:  St. Nicholas is a man of many names in English alone – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas … although in the English speaking world he only comes once (at Christmas, not also on December 6 – whereas in Germany and the Netherlands he makes his visits under different names on both occasions). Which of your favorite books were published under different titles in the same language, e.g., in North America vs. Britain? Have you ever bought a book under a title unfamiliar to you, only to discover belatedly that it was one you already own / had already read under a different title?

Task 4: A Czech Republic tradition for St Nick’s Day is groups of three “people” – St Nick, Angel, and Devil – to roam the streets the night before St Nick’s Day and stop children to ask them if they have been good during the year or not. Most kids say yes, sing a song or recite a poem. The three “strangers” then decide if the children are telling the truth. The good kids get candy / treats from the Angel, bad kids get potatoes or coal from the Devil. So: Post a song or poem (your own or someone else’s) that involves candy, potatoes, or coal.

Book: Read a book with an orange or red cover, set in the Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with nuts, chocolate, coins, canals or beer on the cover.


Door 15:  International Human Rights Day

Task 1: Cook a dish from a culture other than your own or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (for the Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court).

Task 2: Create a stack of books or a list with books by some of your favorite female and / or minority authors (minimum: five) and tell us what you like about their writing.

Task 3:  Nominate a (fictional) character from one of the books you read this year for a Nobel Prize – regardless which one – or for a similarly important prize (e.g., the Fields Medal for mathematics) and write a brief laudation explaining your nomination.

Task 4: Reconstitute one of the bodies or institutions of the United Nations (Plenary Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice / Criminal Court, World Bank, etc.) with some of your favorite characters (minimum: five) and explain why you chose them and what you’d expect them to achieve.

Book: Read a book featuring a strong female character (or characters), by an author from any minority group, a story about a minority overcoming their oppressors, or revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused, a book set in New York City, or a book originally written in a language other than English and / or your mother tongue or by anyone not Anglo-Saxon.


Door 16:  St. Lucia’s Day

Task 1: Famous first words: Tradition has it that the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are woken up by the St. Lucia maidens, as St. Lucia’s Day (Dec. 13) is just three days after the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony and many laureates stay long enough to be able to take in the St. Lucia festivities. Imagine one of your favorite (fictional) characters had won that prize: How would you think (s)he would greet the maidens? (If you’ve used the Nobel Peace Prize for Door 15, Task 3, this can be the same character, of course … or a different one, just as you wish.)

Task 2: Compile a list of five or more carols, poems, short stories, novels or other pieces of writing that feature sleigh rides.

Task 3:  Trolls, gnomes, dwarves and similar beings (some evil, some less so, almost all of them mischievous) are a staple of Scandinavian mythology and folklore, as well as other folklores and mythologies around the world and, of course, fantasy and speculative fiction. Who is your favorite such creature and why? (No matter whether mythological, fictional or from whatever other source.)

Task 4: The historic (3d century AD) St. Lucia was Italian; yet, like those of many other saints (including, e.g., St. Andrew and St. Nicholas), the most important celebrations of her holiday don’t occur in her place of origin but somewhere else in the world.
List or create a stack of favorite books (minimum: three) featuring a character’s move or transition from one part of the world to another one (or from one end of a large country, e.g., U.S. Canada, Russia, China or Australia, to the other end.)
Alternatively, tell us: Which book that you acquired this year had to travel the farthest to get to you (regardless whether by plane, sea, or whichever other way, and regardless whether it was a purchase of your own or a gift from someone else)?

Book:  Read a book set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, by a Northern European / Nordic author, with a predominantly white cover (or white with red lettering), newly released in November or December of this year, or set in the candle-lit world (i.e., before the discovery of electricity – roughly, that is, before the late 19th century).


Door 17:  Winter Solstice (Yule / Yaldā Night / Dongzhi / Soyal)

Task 1: Yule task (Germany / Scandinavia): Burn a Yule log – or if you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle to chase away the winter and welcome in the longer days. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, light a candle to mourn the slow but inexorable retreat of the sun.

Task 2: Yaldā Night task (Persia / Iran): Stay up all night reading a good book (or at least stay up past your usual bedtime).

Task 3:  Dongzhi task (China): To commemorate Marco Polo’s memoirs of his trip to China, write a fictional diary entry or letter home from an imagined trip to a faraway place (real or invented) – or if you actually have written such a letter in the past and are happy to share it with us, please do!

Task 4: Soyal task (Zuñi & Hopi / Native American): While systems of written symbols and communication already existed with the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures, to many tribes even today (including the Zuñi and Hopi) the oral tradition is still important. Have you ever had stories told to you (e.g., as children’s bedtime stories, or at night during a camping vacation)? Or if you haven’t, try to imagine a “storytelling” situation you’d like to experience?

Book:  Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.


Door 18:  Hanukkah

Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year. Find a virtual dreidel here:

Task 2: Latkes or donuts are fried in oil to remind Jews of the oil that lasted for eight days: Fry yourself up some latkes or donuts. Share your recipe with us if they came out tasty.

Task 3:  Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).

Task 4: The 6th night of Hanukkah is dubbed “Candle of Righteousness”; at this time believers are expected to make a charitable donation. Make a blessing bag or food donation to a local food bank (or another charitable donation if there is no food bank anywhere near you).

Book: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.


Door 19:  Festivus

Task 1: The annual airing of grievances: Which are the five books you liked least this year – and why?

Task 2: Battle of the Books: pick two books off your shelf (randomly or with purpose); in a fair fight, which book would come out on top? The fight can be based on the merits of the book itself, its writing, or full-on mano a mano between two characters. Which would win the feat of strength?

Task 3:  Go ‘pole’mic on one of the characters from an entrant in your five least favorite books, or just have a go at one of the books (the book, not the author, please) in Task 1.

Task 4: As miracles go, a “Festivus miracle” … really isn’t one – it’s just something marginally unusual that someone mentions and which someone else then declares “a Festivus miracle”, as a pun on the “Christmas miracle” trope. (E.g., in the original Seinfeld episode, it’s a coincidental meeting: “Oh, I didn’t expect to run into you here …” – “It’s a Festivus miracle!”) Create a “Festivus miracle” dialogue / situation; the greater the parody the better.

Book: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.


Door 20:  Christmas

Task 1: Share a picture of your holiday decorations.

Task 2: Watch a favorite Christmas movie.

Task 3:  Did your Christmas celebrations include books? Share your book haul pictures with us!

Task 4: What was the best Christmas / holiday present you ever received – the one that meant the most to you or gave you the greatest joy? (This can be anything; objects / material gifts as well as something someone did for you, or anything else – whatever made that particular holiday especially memorable.)

Book: Read a Christmas book.


Door 21:  Kwanzaa

Task 1: Share a shelfie or the picture of a stack of books or of an “object” (star, Christmas tree, etc.) created from books with red, black and green covers.

Task 2: Music is an important part of a Kwanzaa celebration. Which is / are your favorite book(s) where music plays an important role in the plot?

Task 3: Corn, in the context of Kwanzaa, symbolizes of our children and our future which they represent. Make / eat a corn dish. Recipes:

Task 4: Cup of Unity is another Kwanzaa symbol. Either buy a friend a coffee / tea / etc. or start a small tab ($10 or less) at a local coffee shop and buy a coffee / tea for strangers behind you in line.

Book: Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean, by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author, with a green, red, or black cover, or with crops of the earth or a native African animal on the cover (Lion, giraffe, cheetah, etc.).


Door 22:  New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day

Task 1: Tell us: What are your reading goals for the coming year?

Task 2: The reading year in review: How did you fare – what was good, what wasn’t?

Task 3: Bibliomancy: Ask a question related to your reading plans or experience in the coming year, open one of your weightiest tomes on page 485, and find the answer to your question in line 7.

Task 4: Tell us: Which famous person, dead or alive and no matter from which walk of life, would you like to invite to your New Year’s Eve party, and what contribution (food, games / entertainment, etc.) would you tell them to bring?

Book: Read a book about an ending or a new start, where things go BOOM, with fireworks on the cover, set in medieval times, about the papacy, or where miracles of any sort are performed.


Door 23:  Hogswatch

Task 1: Glingleglingleglingle – if you could wish any kind of god(dess) or fairy into existence, what would they be in charge of?

Task 2: Who is your favorite Discworld character and why?

Task 3:  If you could spend time in the world of one of the Discworld sub-series (or one of the standalone Discworld novels), which one would you pick – and why?

Task 4:  In Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, who do you root more for: Aziraphale or Crowley? Or another character? (And in each case: why?)

Book: Any- and everything Terry Pratchett.


Door 24:  Twelfth Night / Epiphany

Task 1: Prepare your favorite spicy dish or drink; share a picture and enjoy. (Sharing the recipe is optional.)

Task 2: Have you ever had an “epiphany” of your own, in the sense of a sudden revelation or insight? If so, share that “ah-HAH” moment with us.

Task 3:  George and Martha Washington were married on Twelfth Night in 1759. She wore purple silk slippers (https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/martha-washington/george-marthas-courtship/ ). In honor of the first FLOTUS, wear purple socks or slippers and share a picture of them with us.

Task 4:  In Ireland, Epiphany is also sometimes called “Nollaig na mBean” or Women’s Christmas. Traditionally the women get the day off and men do the housework and cooking! It is becoming more popular and many Irish women now get together on the Sunday nearest Epiphany and have tea and cakes. (https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/epiphany.shtml ) Take a picture of your book for this square (Epiphany) or of the book you are currently reading with a mug of tea and snack or enjoy a cream tea.

Book: Read a book featuring three main characters, about traveling on a journey to a faraway place, a book that’s part of a trilogy, with a star on the cover, with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title, or concerning kings or spices.


24 Festive Tasks 2018



Books: Meteor
Tasks: Bows


The Squares


Book:  Agatha Christie: Miss Marple – The Complete Short Stories (audio version, narrated by Joan Hickson, Isla Blair and Anna Massey)
Task 1:
Task 2: Favorite Epitaph (William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon)
Task 3: Sherlock Holmes Altar
Task 4: Mexican Food

Points: 4


Book: Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here’s Poison
Task 1: Book Burned in Effigy
Task 2: Book-Related Crimes
Task 3: Favorite Food “Flambé” (Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Cherries)
Task 4: “Non-Explosive” “Gunpowder” Titles

Points:  5


Book: Dick Francis: Field of Thirteen
Task 1: Pick your ponies: A Prince of Arran, The Cliffsofmoher, Sound Check  (=> 1 point for participation + 1 point for getting 1 horse right)
Task 2: Hats
Task 3:
Task 4: Hamburg Derby & CHIO

Points: 5 


Book: Terry Pratchett: The Light Fantastic
Task 1: Bonn Leuchtet / Bonn Shines (Favorite Light Display)
Task 2: Shelf Organization / Tea Shelves
Task 3:
Task 4: Book Covers (Girls Holding Flowers)

Points: 4


Book: Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile
Task 1: Book Cover Flag of Germany
Task 2:
Task 3: “Veteran” Readership / Personal Literary Canon
Task 4: Poppy Seedcake

Points: 4


Book: Various Authors: A Very French Christmas (anthology)
Task 1: Redeeming Element of Low-Rated Book
Task 2:
Task 3:
Task 4:

Points: 2


Book: Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder
Task 1: Book-related prophecies
Task 2: Book Rescue & Book-Related Travel / Pilgrimages
Task 3:
Task 4: Characters Who Made a Career Change

Points: 4


Book: Barbara Vine: The Brimstone Wedding
Task 1: Comfort reads
Task 2: Favorite Sports Teams and Their Pennants
Task 3: Bad Hair Day
Task 4: In the Desert (Egypt)

Points: 5


Book: Donna Andrews: Six Geese A-Slaying
Task 1: Books I am “most thankful” for / Favorite Books of 2018
Task 2: Christmas Dinner with Mark Twain
Task 3: A Book Full of Stuffing
Task 4: Book Harvest

Points: 5


Book: Simon Brett & Certain Members of the Detection Club: The Sinking Admiral
Task 1: Paper Boat (and Cats)
Task 2: Rhein in Flammen / The Rhine on Fire (festive boat procession)
Task 3: Rainy Day Books
Task 4: “Moonlighting” Book Characters

Points: 5


Book: Michael Connelly: Dark Sacred Night
Task 1: The Mother of All Writerly Sins
Task 2: Mother’s Day Memory
Task 3: Favorite Shoes
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Michael Connelly: The Late Show
Task 1:
Task 2:
Task 3: Cloud Formations
Task 4: Books Featuring Golf

Points: 3


Book: Neil Gaiman: A Study in Emerald
Task 1:
Task 2: Holiday Traditions
Task 3: Wassail Bowl
Task 4:

Points: 3


Book: Michael Connelly: Two Kinds of Truth
Task 1: A Miracle? Maybe.
Task 2: 9 Candles
Task 3: Donut
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: J.A. Jance: Desert Heat
Task 1: Book Wishlist
Task 2: Three Wishes
Task 3: Holiday Treats
Task 4: Books Featuring Children Rescued from Peril

Points: 5


Book: Anne Perry: A Christmas Guest
Task 1: Human Rights Keywords in Bok Titles
Task 2: 70+ Year Old Book Characters
Task 3:
Task 4:

Points: 3


Book: Various Authors: Skandinavische Weihnachten
Task 1: Book Flood
Task 2:
Task 3: Book Cover Crown of Light
Task 4: Gävle Goat guess (=> 1 point for participation + 1 point for correct guess)

Points: 5


Book: Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale
Task 1: Bibliomancy
Task 2: Neverending Book
Task 3: Book Cover Herd of Reindeer
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance, and Model Millionnaire
Task 1: Airing of Grievances (Least Favorite Books of 2018)
Task 2: CatFestivus Pole
Task 3: Book Stack / Scales Feat of Strength
Task 4: “Festivus” Google Search Screenshot

Points: 5


Book: Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories
Task 1: Christmas Decorations
Task 2: Christmas Dinner with Mark Twain
Task 3: Favorite Christmas Movie: A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart, 1999)
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Ken Bruen: The Guards
Task 1: Favorite Book Heroes and their Nemeses
Task 2: Misdirection in Books
Task 3: Visiting Africa
Task 4: Kwanzaa / Vegetable Dinner

Points: 5


Book: Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Task 1: 2019 Book Goals
Task 2: 2018 Reading in Review
Task 3: Book Lottery
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Terry Pratchett: Hogfather
Task 1: Glingleglingleglingle: Cologne Heinzelmännchen / Household God(dess)
Task 2: Holiday Book Joker
Task 3: Pumuckl’s Footprints, or, “Do you believe in Santa Claus?”
Task 4:

Points: 4


Book: Patricia Wentworth: The Clock Strikes Twelve
Task 1: Favorite Trilogy
Task 2: Holiday Book Joker
Task 3: The Twelve Days of Christmas / Images
Task 4: Favorite Spicy Drink

Points: 5


Used for:
Hogswatch, Task 2 (Various Authors: Murder for Christmas – anthology)
Epiphany, Task 2 (Various Authors; John Julius Norwich (ed.): An English Christmas – anthology) 

Final Score:

 100 points



The Tasks

Door 1:  Día de los Muertos / All Saints’ Day

Task 1:  Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.

Task 2:  Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).

Task 3:  Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character and post a picture of it.  Inclusion of book cover encouraged.

Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.

Book:  Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.


Door 2:  Guy Fawkes Night

Task 1:  Burn a book in effigy.  Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?

Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.

Task 3:  Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe of food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).

Task 4:  Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.


Door 3:  Melbourne Cup Day

Task 1:  Pick your ponies!  MbD will post the horses scheduled to race as soon as they’re released; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).

Task 2:  Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.

Task 3:  The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello.  What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across?

Task 4:  Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)?  Tell us about it.  Photos welcome, too!

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.


Door 4:  Diwali

Task 1:  Share a picture of your favorite light display.

Task 2:  Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it.  Give us the before and after photos.  OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information.  (If in doubt, see here.)

Task 3:  Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.

Task 4:  During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower.  Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.

Book:  Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title, OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)


Door 5:  Veteran’s/Armistice Day

Task 1:  Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy.  Take a pic of your efforts and post.

Task 2:  Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.

Task 3:  Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?

Task 4:  Treat yourself to a slice of seedcake and post a photo.  If you want to make it yourself, try out this recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/poppy-seed-cake/ … or this one: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1629633/lemon-and-poppy-seed-cake

Book:  Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.


Door 6:  International Day for Tolerance

Task 1:  Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.

Task 2:  Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you?  (Insta-love?  Love triangles?  First person present narrative voice?  Talking animals?  The dog dies?  What else?)

Task 3:  The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO).  Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers.

Task 4:  UNESCO is based in Paris.  Paris is known for its pastries and its breads:  Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us.

Book:  Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone.  (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.)  OR Read a book set in Paris.


Door 7:  Mawlid

Task 1:   Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.

Task 2:  The Five Pillars of Islam almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka.  Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed?  Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you?

Task 3:  Prophets are messengers.  Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?

Task 4:  Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader.  List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change.

Book:  If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.  Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.


Door 8:  Penance Day

Task 1: “Confess” your book habits.  Dog-earring?  Laying books face down?  Bending back the spines? Skimming?  OR: Confess your guilty reading pleasure, or comfort reads.

Task 2: It’s “Pennants” day according to MbD’s husband:  post a picture of your favorite team’s logo/mascot and the last time they’ve won a championship (or not)

Task 3:  In centuries gone by, penance would often end up in what might be described as a very extended bad hair day (complete with sackcloth and ashes).  Tell us: What’s a bad hair day to you – and what (if anything) do you do about it?

Task 4:  Early Christian spiritualists would sometimes do penance by spending time in the desert.  If you’ve ever visited a desert region (or even live there), post a picture and tell us about it.  Alternatively, post a picture of sand dunes (NOT with water in the background!).

Book:  Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.


Door 9:  Thanksgiving

Task 1:  List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better.

Task 2:  Describe your perfect meal.  What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you?

Task 3:  Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.

Task 4:  Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way.

Book:  Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story.


Door 10:  Bon Om Touk

Task 1:  Make a paper boat and post a picture of it.   Instructions, if needed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiAWx8odStA

Task 2:  If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it.

Task 3:  Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season.  Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading?  Photos welcome!

Task 4:  Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”?

Book:  Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot.


Door 11:  Russian Mothers’ Day

Task 1:  Tell us: What is the mother of all writerly sins in your book (tropes, grammar mistakes, telling instead of showing, etc.)?

Task 2:  Do you have a favorite Mothers’ Day memory that you are happy to share?  Photos welcome but optional.

Task 3:  Perhaps the best-known scene in the James Bond novel and film From Russia With Love is 007 being poisoned by Russian agent Rosa Klebb with a venom-laced blade hidden in her shoe.  Tell us: Have you ever owned any particular / outrageous / funny / best-beloved or otherwise special pair of shoes?  Post a photo if you should still own them.

Task 4:  Make a traditional Russian dish like borscht, blintzes, pirogi or solyanka soup, and share a picture with us.  Find recipe suggestions here: https://www.expatica.com/ru/about/Top-10-Russian-foods-and-recipes_108678.html

Book:  Read a book set in Russia, or involving a story within a story / play within a play (like the Russian matryoshka dolls stuck inside each other), or where a key character (not necessarily the protagonist) is a mother.


Door 12:  St. Andrew’s Day

Task 1:  Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why?

Task 2: Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”?  What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book?

Task 3:  Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us!

Task 4:  The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.  List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot.

Book:  Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series.  OR:  Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers.  OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to scotland.org).


Door 13:  Advent

Task 1:  Post a picture of your advent calendar – store bought or homemade.

Task 2:  The holidays season is in full swing – tell us:  What’s your favorite tradition?

Task 3:  The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing).  Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit.  Post a picture and enjoy!

Task 4:  Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it.  Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg

Book:  Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent.  Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.


Door 14:  Hanukkah

Task 1:  Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small – share your miracles with us!

Task 2:  Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional).

Task 3:  Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo.  Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine.

Task 4:  A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all?

Book:  Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel.  OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title.


Door 15:  SinterKlaas / St. Nicholas Day

Task 1:  Write a book wish list to St. Nick.

Task 2: You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’:  one for yourself, one for your community (any version) and one for the world: What are they?

Task 3:  If your holiday family traditions should include bowls or plates filled with gingerbread, cookies, oranges / tangerines, chocolate, nuts and the like, share a photo with us!

Task 4:  List your 3 favorite books involving children being rescued from serious peril.

Book: with an orange or red cover or with nuts, chocolate or coins on the cover, set in The Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with canals or beer on the cover.


Door 16:  Human Rights Day

Task 1:  Book hunt for human rights:  Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as: hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc.  Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting.  (5 book minimum).

Task 2: This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are — or can reasonably be assumed to be — 70 years or older.

Task 3:  The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you?

Task 4:  Human Rights Day was declared by the U.N. General Assembly, whose seat is in New York City.  Treat yourself to a Manhattan (classic recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/manhattan-2/ ; virgin [non-alcoholic] recipes: https://www.anallievent.com/virgin-manhattan/ , http://www.1001cocktails.com/recipes/mixed-drinks/800238/cocktail-virgin-manhattan.html and https://www.liquor.com/recipes/not-manhattan/ ) or to a bagel or pastrami sandwich and share a photo with us.

Book:  Read any book with strong female characters, or written by an author from any minority group; any story about a minority overcoming their oppressors either individually or as a group. OR: A book set in New York City.


Door 17:  St. Lucia’s Day

Task 1: In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it.

Task 2: Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWSs-vQX0AI ) or prepare some other dish containing saffron.

Task 3:  Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle.

Task 4: Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year?
For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent.  It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat.  Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled.

Book:  Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year.


Door 18:  Solstice / Yuletide

Task 1:  Bibliomancy: Grab one of your larger books and flip to the indicated page and line number to answer the following questions – then post those answers for us:

    • Will I read all the books on my TBR?  (page 378, line 29)
    • Will any of my 2019 reads be 5 stars? (page 227, line 31)
    • Will I discover a new favorite book / author / series? (page 309, line 23)
    • Will I discover that a major twist (hopefully, for the [even] better) has occurred in one of my favorite series? (page 459, line 16)
    • Will I finish all of my reading challenges in 2019? (page 69, line 7)
    • Will I stay within my book budget in 2019? (page 98, line 5)

Task 2:  Tell us: What book did you read this year that felt like it was never going to end?

Task 3:  Round up a herd of reindeer on book covers and in book illustrations.

Task 4: Treat yourself to a bûche de Noel (French Yule log cake) – if you want to try and make it yourself, see recipe here: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/buche-de-noel-recipe.

Book:  Any book that takes place in December or with ice or snow on the cover, revolving around the (summer or winter) equinox, or a collection of poetry by Hafez.


Door 19:  Festivus 

Task 1:  It’s the annual airing of grievances!  Time to list the top 5 books that disappointed you the most this year and let us know why!

Task 2:  Take a picture of your Festivus Pole (and remember this is a family site).

Task 3: Have your household scales perform a feat of strength: Place 10 of your heaviest books in a stack on your scales and tell us what their total weight comes to.

Task 4:  Google the word “Festivus” and tell us or take a screenshot of what you see at the left border of the results page.

Book: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.


Door 20:  Christmas

Task 1:  Post a picture of your Christmas decorations.

Task 2: Tell us: If you could share Christmas dinner with any author (dead or alive), who would it be?

Task 3:  Watch a favorite Christmas movie.

Task 4:  Create or recreate a short text relating to Christmas (poem, carol, wish list, season’s greetings, etc.) from the titles of books on your bookshelves.

Book:  Um, Christmas books …


Door 21:  Kwanzaa

Task 1: “Africa” was originally the name of the Roman province originating from the North African empire of Carthage, which was mythologically founded by Queen Dido and blossomed into Ancient Rome’s only lasting opponent and nemesis (until it was finally conquered by Rome in the Punic Wars).  So: who are your five favorite book heroes and their respective nemeses?

Task 2:  In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the “Finis Africae” is the hidden center of the labyrinth which constitutes the monastery’s library, protected by a number of intricate, misdirecting devices.  Tell us: Where have you recently encountered clever misdirection or a labyrinthine plot in a book?

Task 3:  Tell us: If you could travel to Africa (for those living on the African continent: to a part of Africa that you don’t know yet): Where would you want to go?

Task 4:  Have a meal involving vegetables (= crops) and / or corn, or another form of traditional Kwanzaa dinner.  Recipe suggestions here: https://kwanzaaculinarians.com/

Book: Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean, or by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author, or a book with a green, red, or black cover.


Door 22:  New Year’s Eve

Task 1:  Your 2019 Book Goals:  what are they?

Task 2: 2018 Reading Year in Review.  Tell us about your year in books:  happy? disappointed?

Task 3:  New Year’s Book Lottery: Write the names of the first 5 books you’re planning to read in 2019 onto identical pieces of paper, fold them, place them in a bowl (or bucket, jar, box, etc.), and draw one to determine the very first book you’re going to start in the new year.

Task 4:  Find a bakery that sells Krapfen (German deep-fried sweet dough dumplings) or make them yourself (recipe here: https://germangirlinamerica.com/rheinische-ol-krapfen-new-year/) and enjoy with a glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly drink – but first, take and post a photo of them!

Book: Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM!


Door 23:  Hogswatch 

Task 1: Task 1: glingleglingleglingle – if you could wish any kind of god(dress) into existence, what would they be in charge of? Dusting? Weeding? We’re not aiming high here… tell us!

Task 2: Tell us: Did you or any kids you know ever have a funny or weird (the good sort of weird) encounter with a department store Santa, um, Hogfather?

Task 3:  Which children’s myth / mythical character (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc.) did you never believe in even when you were little?

Task 4:  Discworld features a number of inventions that mirror our world’s technology but work according to Discworld’s very own specifications; e.g., Hex, the ant-powered sapient thinking machine (computer) and a demon-powered picture box (camera).  What other invention from our world would you have liked to see appearing in Discworld and how might it have worked there?

Book:  Anything by Terry Pratchett.


Door 24:  Epiphany

Task 1:  Tell us: What’s your favorite trilogy?

Task 2:  Chalking the door is an Epiphany tradition in some places, to bless a home for the coming year.  Different patterns exist, with different meanings.  If you could create your own pattern to bless your house next year, what would it look like?

Task 3:  Compile a post containing one image for every gift mentioned / added in each new verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas (lyrics here: https://www.41051.com/xmaslyrics/twelvedays.html).

Task 4: Prepare your favorite spicy dish or holiday drink containing spices and share a photo.  Also sharing the recipe is optional but welcome!

Book: Read a book with three main characters; books about traveling on a journey to a faraway place, a book that’s part of a trilogy, with a star on the cover, with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title, or concerning kings or spices.



12 Festive Tasks

Snow Globes: Reads
Bells: Activities


Task the First: The Winter Wonderland:

– Read a book that is set in a snowy place.
=> Dylan Thomas: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

– If you are lucky enough to live in a snowy place, or even if you aren’t, take a walk outside and post a picture of something pretty you encountered on your way.
=> A Visit to the Christmas Market


 Task the Second: The Silent Nights:


– Read a book set in one of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and/or Denmark), where winter nights are long!
=> Tania (Karen) Blixen: Babette’s Feast

– Get your hygge on! Hygge is a Danish concept that relates to being content and cozy. Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want!



Task the Third: The Holiday Party:


– Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action. Examples would include holiday parties, country house hunting/weekend parties, weddings, etc.
=> Rex Stout: And Four to Go

– Make something that is considered party food where you are from, and post a picture of it on booklikes.


Task the Fourth: The Gift Card:

– Read a book that you either received as a gift or have given as a gift.
=> Ian Rankin: Even Dogs in the Wild

– Give a book to a friend and post a picture of the wrapped present.



Task the Fifth: The Kwanzaa:

– Read a book written by an African-American author or set in an African country.

– Make a small donation to a charitable organization that operates in Africa.

Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah:

– Let the dreidel choose a book for you: create a list of four books, and assign a dreidel symbol to each one (Nun = miracle; Gimel = great; He = happened; Shin = there, i.e. Israel). Google “spin the dreidel,” and a dreidel comes up for you to spin. Give it a spin and read the book that the dreidel chooses!
=> Arthur Conan Doyle: The Valley of Fear

– Make a traditional Hanukkah food like doughnuts or potato latkes. Post a picture, or tell us how they turned out!

Latkes (Kartoffelpuffer / Reibekuchen / “Riefkooche”), courtesy of Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (see also Task the First)


Task the Seventh: The Christmas:


– Read a book set during the Christmas holiday season.
=> Donna Andrews: The Nightingale Before Christmas

– Grab your camera (or your phone) and set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat. Post it for everyone to enjoy!


Task the Eighth: The Movie Ticket


– Read a book that has been adapted to a holiday movie.
=> Frances Hodgson Burnett: Little Lord Fauntleroy

– Go see a new theater release this holiday season (during November/December. This does not have to be a holiday movie, so yes, Fantastic Beasts will qualify).


Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year

– Every year you get a little bit older! Read a coming of age novel or any old favorite comfort read to start the new year right.
=> Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (audio version read by Patrick Stewart)

– If you’re feeling brave, post a holiday picture of yourself from your childhood or misspent youth.
=> Task the NInth: The Happy New Year (Part 2)


Task the Tenth: The Holiday Down Under

– Read a book set in Australia or by an Australian author,  or read a book you would consider a “beach read”.
=> Kerry Greenwood: Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates

– Christmas crackers are a traditional part of an Australian Christmas. Buy some (or make your own) to add to your festivities and share some pictures!


Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express

– Read a book that involves train travel (such as Murder on the Orient Express).
=> Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express

– Read a classic holiday book from your childhood (to a child if you have one handy) or tell us a story about a childhood Christmas you’d like to share.
=> Hans Christian Andersen: The Snow Queen


Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl

– Read a book set in the UK, preferably during the medieval or Victorian periods (for those of us doing the Merlin read-along, the Crystal Cave works for this task).
=> Mary Stewart: The Crystal Cave

– Drink a festive, holiday beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Take a picture of your drink, and post it to share – make it as festive as possible!

Mulled wine (Glühwein), courtesy of Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (see also Task the First)